"Little Rat! What's the matter with you!" yelled Harold.
The young orc staggered to his feet. He spat out the severed half of one of the small furry beasts and coughed. "It bite, I bite back, taste pretty bad," he said and spit out a clump of skin and fur. "I feel sick," he put both hands to his head. "Room not stand still." he leaned against the wall then slid down.
"What's the matter, what's the matter..." Harold said nervously and bent beside the orc.
Ivo knelt there too and put his hand to the orc's head, it came away soaked with blood. "We had better get him bandaged quickly; he is bleeding, too much..."
"We'd better get Gytha..." Harold insisted.
Ivo pulled out a length of cloth and handed it to the thief. "Bandage first, he is hurt very badly. Here," the gnome pulled out a jar from his pack and opened up a metal lid, the threads grinding against the glass. "Put some of this on him. Take two fingers worth. I want some for Harald as well."
"Magic salve?" asked the thief.
"It will help him heal," Ivo replied. "Two fingers, come now, the ranger looks unsteady too."
Harold glanced over at his friend and saw him sway then put a hand against the wall to keep himself upright. The halfling put his fingers in the jar and scooped up two fingers worth of the healing goo, it felt cool and tingling on his hand then he smeared it across the young orc's face and chest. Little Rat sighed and his eyes opened.
Ivo snatched the jar away and picked a careful trail across the carpet of furry beasts. The creatures were harmless in the light, so he did not fear attack, but he cared not if the perished now, beneath his feet, or later.
"Hold still I'm going to put some healing salve on your arm," Ivo tugged at the ranger's tattered sleeve.
"What?" asked Harald groggily.
"Sit down, you humans are too tall."
The ranger sank down much as the orc had, letting his back scrape against the wall. Ivo used a portion of the salve just on the ranger's face and neck. His ears were notched like the tattered ends of a ragcloth book. The salve mingled with the drying blood and went to work. Harald gave a groan from deep within his chest then shook his head to clear it. The gnome emptied the jar rubbing salve into both of the ranger's arms. There were many wounds and the jar was small, some cuts healed and some deeper wounds as well, but many more remained.
"Gibberlings," said Harald. He held a tiny body in his hand. The creature was dead; it hung limply like a child's doll.
"Yes, as I thought, though I've never seen their young before," Ivo said with keen interest in the tiny beast.
* * *
"He seems stunned," said Telenstil.
Gytha knelt by Ghibelline and brushed back the hair which overhung his eyes. It was a ragged golden-brown, cut short by his captors when they found him and growing back, unkempt and long, since then.
"I have prayed for him," Gytha smiled, "the evil has fled his body. He will heal; the Saint has helped in that." She looked up at Telenstil her smile fading and a serious expression now on her face. "I ask for the Saint's grace more and more it seems. I feel closer to him, lighter, so much of his strength has passed through me that the weight which burdened my spirit is gone."
"I am glad to hear that," said Telenstil, "We will need your strength, more than I had imagined. They will be worrying, can we move Ghibelline?"
"Yes, but carefully," Gytha put her hand under the elf's arm, "Take his other side." she said to Telenstil.
They lifted him, he was not heavy. Ghibelline was thin, his muscles flat and wiry. He had never been fat and his time spent in the dungeon of the giants had stripped away any surplus flesh leaving just muscle and bone covered with a stretch of skin. His head nodded back and forth, his chin bouncing against his chest as they half-carried half-dragged him within the ravine.
"We'd better stop," Gytha said as they stepped into the dark, "I cannot see."
"My apologies," said Telenstil, "I forgot that you do not have the sight."
"I do have a torch. Hold him for a moment while I get it from my pack," Gytha shifted Ghibelline so that Telenstil held him beneath both arms then realized that her pack was gone. "Can you hold him for a moment? I've left my pack behind."
"I can hold him," said Telenstil, "do not worry I am strong enough for that. Gytha I will take him, you go find your pack, come back with a torch."
"I will. Find your pack and his sword."
Telenstil carried Ghibelline away down the sloping trail into the dark. Gytha ran sprinting back to the woods to find her pack, her staff and Ghibelline's fallen sword.